Three NPA councillors vote against Vancouver tax on empty homes, arguing instead for incentives

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      Vancouver city council has voted 8-3 in favour of a new one percent tax on homes left vacant for at least six months of the year.

      Mayor Gregor Robertson, six Vision Vancouver councillors, and Green councillor Adriane Carr supported the measure.

      “In Vancouver’s rental housing crisis, the city can’t afford to sit on the sidelines while more than 20,000 empty and underused homes hold back badly-needed longer-term rentals,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a news release following the vote.

      He called it a "business tax". The mayor also referred to it as "one piece of the puzzle to boosting rental supply and bringing relief to renters by turning thousands of empty and underused homes into rental properties".

      The three NPA councillors opposed the plan, proposing instead to create incentives for people to rent empty homes.

      The majority, however, rejected Coun. Melissa de Genova's amended motion (see below) to achieve this. 

      The tax takes effect next year and the first payments will be made in 2018.

      Homeowners will have to self-report. There will also be random audits, according to the city news release.

      Vision Vancouver councillor Andrea Reimer pointed out over Twitter that only those who own two or more homes must pay the tax.